Rebecca Middleton
Rebecca Middleton

We’ll press on. That’s the message from a Montreal-based television production company that was denied work permits necessary for them to come to Bermuda to film a show about the brutal rape and murder of a Canadian teenager in 1996.

“We formally applied for the necessary work permits and our application was refused,” said Cineflix’s publicist Vanessa Marra through a statement. “We are moving forward with production and will be conducting all interviews outside of Bermuda. We have no further comment at this time.”

The show is to be part of a series called Murder in Paradise.

Rebecca Middleton was raped, tortured and killed while on vacation here, on July 3, 1996.

The 17-year-old was stabbed up to 35 times and left to die on a remote road in Ferry Reach, St George’s. No one has been convicted of her murder.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has said the crew was denied permits because of “potential reputational risks to Bermuda”.

 He denied the decision impinged on press freedoms: “This is a docu-drama production and is not journalism.”

Not everyone agreed. Rebecca Middleton’s father, David, told Canadian television,  “I’m not terribly surprised by that, I’m just, again, disappointed... if the government really wants to do something, they want to be part of correcting something that went wrong, then they should be on board with having it done in Bermuda.”

Others, such as Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban, have said the decision to block the film crew was an affront to freedom of expression.

International scrutiny

If the idea was to avoid negative publicity for Bermuda, that strategy appears to have failed, at least in the short term. The denial of the work permits triggered international scrutiny of the decision.

“Bermuda denies permits for Canadian TV crew over Rebecca Middleton program,” read the headline in The Toronto Star. The Jamaica Observer, meanwhile, trumpeted: “Fearing bad press, Bermuda denies TV crew entry.”

Mr. Fahy, however, has maintained, “Nothing is journalistic about re-enactments of a brutal murder and rape, especially when we are well aware of what happened.”

He added: “This production would not be in any way reflective of the Bermuda justice system.” 

So what happened to her accused killers?

By Simon Jones

While one of the prime suspects in the murder of Rebecca Middleton has remained behind bars for the last 17 years, the second has had a string of brushes with the law.

Jamaican Kirk Mundy received a five-year jail sentence after agreeing a deal with prosecutors and admitting the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact in the killing.

But he also received a consecutive 16-year-sentence after admitting his involvement with an armed robbery of a Butterfield Bank security vehicle in 1995.

The result of that sentence, imposed in 1997, has meant Mundy has been behind bars for the last 17 years. He is now being held at the Prison Farm.

During his time in prison he has come to the attention of the courts on two more occasions.

In 2009 he admitted having 0.96 grams of cannabis in his cell.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner added 18 months to the 16-year sentence he was serving for robbery and use of an imitation firearm.

Three years later he made a surprise  appearance in the murder trial of Derek Spalding as he stood trial for the killing of Shaki Crockwell.

Mundy was called as a defence witness to explain away a series of lyrics found at Spalding’s home that prosecutors claimed implicated Spalding in the Crockwell murder.

Mundy said he wrote the lyrics himself and they had nothing to do with the murder of Shaki Crockwell.

He was also quizzed about the Middleton murder during his time on the stand, but answered most questions about the teenager’s killing with the words ‘no comment’.

Spalding was subsequently convicted of Mr Crockwell’s murder.

Meanwhile, Justis Smith has had a succession of run-ins with the authorities since he was acquitted of the murder of Rebecca Middleton in 1998.

He was freed after Judge Vincent Meerabux dismissed the case saying there was insufficient evidence to continue with the trial.

But three years later Smith was back in court where he was given a conditional discharge for his part in a fight that erupted at the Esso Gas Station on Par-la-Ville Road in Hamilton.

In February 2002 Smith attacked two women — one with a knife — in Dockyard.

Over a year later he was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury of unlawful wounding, causing bodily harm and possessing an offensive weapon relating to the attack.
He was initially sentenced to 11 months in prison, which was increased on appeal to two years. 

In May 2008, Smith was convicted of possessing a small amount of heroin, at Magistrates’ Court, for which he received a $1,000 fine.

Finally, in August 2012, Smith, 34, along with another man, was charged with aggravated burglary with a knife, using an imitation firearm and using a firearm to resist or prevent their arrest.

They were both found not guilty of the charges by a Supreme Court jury on December 13, 2013.